Book Review: Generation Z: A Century in the Making

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

Generation Z: A Century in the Making is the third book written by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace about this important generation of students who are our current college, high school, and middle schoolers.  We’re just getting to know this generation, but they are our kids, and we’re surrounded by them – at home and now at work.  The more we understand them as a generation, the better our relationships will be.  We’ve reviewed Seemiller and Grace’s first book, Generation Z Goes to College, but we think this one is important as well.

Generation Z, as defined in this book, includes those students born between 1995 and 2010.

Much like Generation Z Goes to College, this book begins with an overview of generations leading up to Generation Z.  As parents, we can find our own generation, or perhaps the generations of our older children and our own parents, to give context to the discussion of Generation Z.   Holding the mirror up to ourselves can be an interesting exercise!  We like, too, the explanation of how world developments have helped to shape each generation, with a focus on the technology of the time, the societal events, and family relationships.   We understand our students better when we remember those world events which shaped their childhoods, and when we remember that our generation has created the society into which they are born.

Seemiller and Grace take a sociological approach to generational studies, and Generation Z: A Century in the Making brings together much of the research on this generation.  The authors’ study is robust and thorough.  This book is not essentially about parenting, although understanding this generation will certainly affect how many of us parent our children in this generation.

The book is not a quick read and may not be one that parents choose to read cover to cover; however, it is a wonderful reference and one to which many parents will return time after time as their children grow.  Parents will find the breadth of information here fascinating and enlightening.  Chapters in the book cover topics such as technology, entertainment, money, family, friends and peers, romance, mental health, risky behaviors, religion and spirituality, learning and education, career and workplace, politics and civic engagement.  As these topics arise for our children, understanding where individuality meets generational themes will give parents greater understanding.

For parents with Generation Z students (and right now that’s most of us) this book will help paint a picture of our students and their friends and peers.  This can only help us to become better, more effective parents.

About the authors:

Corey Seemiller is a faculty member in the department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations at Wright State University. She has worked as a leadership educator in higher education, K-12, non-profits, military, and in the community for more than 20 years. She is the author of The Student Leadership Competencies Guidebook.  Dr. Seemiller has also published articles on civic engagement, competency development, assessing leadership learning, and leadership educator identity development. Her research has taken her around the world for speaking, facilitating, and consulting. Dr. Seemiller received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Arizona State University, Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.

Meghan Grace received her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Chapman University. Getting her Master’s in Higher Education from the University of Arizona, she pursued her career in student affairs. She served as a graduate assistant and coordinator for the Leadership Programs at the University of Arizona, where she taught courses in social entrepreneurship, event planning, leadership, and career readiness. Meghan currently serves as the Director of Undergraduate Programming & University Partnership for Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, where she coordinates orientation events and educational programs.

What the authors have to say about this book:

“This journey into better understanding Generation Z has been a fascinating one.  What started as a simple interest in a new cohort of college students has turned into a quest for more knowledge to answer the question, “Who is Generation Z?”  This book is our effort to include what we know thus far about this generation. . . This book offers insight into what we know about Generation Z and how we might expect this generation, as Merriman puts it, to disrupt the status quo and make a difference.”

“Understanding generations allows us to gain insight on one of the many demographic variables of human beings.  And, like any research, it comes with its shortcomings.  But, we believe that even if we only uncovered a shred of information about how this generation sees and navigates the world, we have provided an opportunity for all of us to leverage their strengths, mitigate their weaknesses, and support them in their journey to make a difference.”

What other have to say about the book:

“As a fellow Generation Z researcher, I can attest that Seemiller and Grace’s work is truly the most comprehensive and conclusive study of Generation Z to date.  It is a must read for anyone who is parenting, educating, employing, marketing to or just plain interacting with this exciting, new generation.”

Jeffrey Brauer, Professor of Social Sciences, Keystone College

“Seemiller and Grace have masterfully made meaning of complex research on Generation Z using numerous studies and fascinating examples.  They characterize this diverse, throwback generation as open-minded, caring, and grounded in a sense of integrity and tenacity.  This exceptional book presents a well-grounded profile of this generation and applies that knowledge to such contexts as education and work environment.  This is a comprehensive, illuminating, ‘must read’ for employers, educators, clergy, politicians, market researchers, and anyone who will engage this generation.”

Dr. Susan R. Komives, Professor Emerita, University of Maryland

“Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace are without question the foremost experts on GenZ today. In Generation Z: A Century in the Making they have compiled the most comprehensive and insightful look at this world changing cohort and how they are already having a significant impact on work, culture, technology, politics and higher education among other areas. A must read for anyone trying to understand today’s high school and college students – who they are, how they think and what drives them.”

William Faust, Senior Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Ologie


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